ICE jails Polish doctor living in US for 40yrs, family demands release
Dr. Lukasz Niec, 43, was detained after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents came to his Michigan home last Tuesday and led him away in handcuffs to the Calhoun County jail, according to WOOD.
Niec is a legal US resident with a permanent green card, and has been living in the US since his parents moved to the country in 1979. He is married to an American and has a daughter and a step-daughter, both also US citizens. Niec’s sister, Iwona Niec-Villaire, who came to the country with her brother at the same time, said Niec “doesn’t even speak Polish.”
When Niec was 17, he pleaded to two misdemeanor convictions in Michigan under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which allows young first offenders to avoid a criminal record if they do not offend again. One charge was for destruction of property of less than $100, and another for concealing stolen goods, WOOD reported.
Several doctors and colleagues have sent out letters of support for Niec following his detention.
Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he works, issued a statement Monday.
“While Bronson Healthcare, like others, respects the laws and regulations concerning United States immigration, we are following the situation surrounding the detention of Dr. Lukasz Niec closely and are doing everything we can to advocate for Dr. Niec,” the statement read, according to WOOD.
Michael Raphelson, who specializes in palliative medicine at Bronson, said Niec is “exactly the kind of person our immigration policies should be encouraging to prosper here, he’s been here for 40 years,” and added “this is a ridiculous situation,” WOOD reported.
Dr. Hussein Akl, who also works alongside Niec, called him “the model physician.”
“The only danger I can see him on is when he’s swinging his golf swing,” Akl quipped.
The hospital said that it has “been in contact with our elected representatives,” and stated, “we have our immigration counsel coordinating with Dr. Niec’s attorney to explore all options to secure his prompt release from detention.”